NTSB Wants Better Weather Training For GA Pilots

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The NTSB yesterday asked the FAA to help improve the GA safety record for weather-related accidents by requiring that all pilots who don't receive weather-related recurrent training address weather issues during the biennial flight review. The BFR should check that pilots can recognize critical weather situations, procure and use aeronautical weather reports and forecasts, determine fuel requirements, and plan for alternatives, the NTSB said. Non-instrument-rated pilots also should demonstrate that they can control the airplane solely by reference to instruments. The safety board also asked the FAA to identify and provide additional support for pilots whose performance indicates increased risk, and to improve its pre-flight weather services. [more] The request follows on the results of an NTSB study that suggests a pilot's performance history, including previous aviation accidents or incidents and FAA knowledge or practical test failures, are associated with an increased risk of being involved in weather-related GA accidents. Factors that reduce risk are obtaining one's first pilot certificates earlier in life or earning higher levels of certifications or instrument ratings.

The safety study examined the risk factors associated with GA flights into conditions of bad weather and poor visibility. "Weather-related accidents are a leading cause of aviation fatalities and the Safety Board has long been concerned with the disproportionate number of fatal accidents associated with weather," said Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker. Even though weather-related accidents are not frequent, they account for a large number of aviation fatalities -- only 6 percent of GA accidents are weather-related but they account for more than one in four fatalities that occur in GA annually. For the study, NTSB investigators collected data from 72 GA accidents that occurred between August 2003 and April 2004. Information about these accidents was compared to a matching group of 135 non-accident flights operating under the same conditions. The texts of all the recommendations and a synopsis of the report can be found on the NTSB Web site. The complete report will be released at a later date.